Saturday, May 30, 2009

Watch and Be Astounded....

“Lord, increase my faith. Teach me how to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Give me strength to stand strong on Your promises and believe Your every word. Help me to believe for Your promises to be fulfilled in me. Increase my faith daily so that I can move mountains in Your name.” (Parts of a prayer I have been praying from “The Power of a Praying Woman”)

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7

I find it interesting that when you are driving on a lengthy trip through the desert…or mountains…or wherever, the weather can change so quickly. It’s sunny and then all of the sudden you are in the midst of a thunderstorm, depending upon which direction you are going, and then you are back in the sunshine! At one point on our trip (the same point my camera was packed in the BACK of the truck instead of in my purse) we were driving through some mountains, there was a rainstorm up on the mountain. You could see the dark clouds and the rain coming down fiercely upon what looked like a small portion of the mountain. (I am sure had we been closer it would have been a much larger area.) But on both sides of the mountain receiving the rain, there was sunshine. (Again…this illustration would have been MUCH better with a picture! SORRY!)

It made me think about how God is with our lives. I could see the part of the mountain in front of the storm, and after the storm. I could see that there was sunshine on either side. I knew from my vantage point that the storm would soon pass and the sun would shine again. How hard it must be for the mountain in the midst of the storm to see the outcome. Kind of like us. When the storms come, and you are in the midst of the downpour, it’s hard to see from where we are that the sun is coming. If we can just hang on for a little while, the sun is over there…we just can’t reach it yet. But, just as I could see the mountain, God sees the storms in our lives the exact same way. He knows the outcome because He sees the big picture.

I have found myself praying lately for a place of quiet rest. I am not complaining, please do not get that from what I am about to say. The last 4-5 years have been very stressful and emotional. Trying to follow God’s will is not always easy. It’s not always laid out for you in black and white. There are times of waiting…LOTS of waiting and times of working toward the goal. Because I believe without a doubt we were promised Emma Claire, we are still in that waiting mode. I just want to gather all of my kids up (including Jacob and Emma) and go to the zoo. That’s what I want. But God’s plan has been much different and in that I will find my peace and rest. I suppose the prayer should be for a place of quiet rest, or strength for the journey.

Before we left for our trip, we sent the foster baby we had for 6 weeks to live with her brothers in another foster home. It was God’s will and to be honest, I was okay with it all. It was very nice going on a 7 day trip, 6 different hotels, without a newborn that wasn’t very happy! Since we got home, DHS has changed all of the rules for us…again…and we were told that we would never adopt out of our county because they would not allow us to take a baby for more than 30 days.

Yesterday, about noon, I received a phone call from another state. I almost didn’t answer as I have been receiving wrong numbers lately, but I did. The man introduced himself to me, stating he was from NATHHAN/Chask and received a phone call from Oklahoma City. I knew of NATHHAN/Chask as I had referred homeschooling parents with special needs to them before. But I wasn’t sure why they were calling me. He told me there is a pregnant woman in OKC who wants a nice family to adopt her baby and when he put in the information, our name was the only one to pop up on his computer. He gave me some more information before I stopped him and asked how he had my information. Evidently, I signed up and sent our profile information to him back in October! I did not remember at all! (I had looked at so many websites!)

I asked him what our cost would be (since he mentioned the word “agency”) and he said they do not charge, they just want to share the gospel with birth moms. He said I would need a home study (check) and an attorney (check) and travel expenses, which with her being here in the city are minimal (check).

After talking some more (and becoming more aware of how many little prayers were being answered in this one phone call) I told him that yes, he could send her our profile. I updated it with current pictures and within an hour, the birthmother was calling me. She said she read our information and she wants us to adopt her baby. (Can I get a PRAISE GOD???)

The baby is African American/Caucasian. We have been told it is a girl. I get to go to her doctor’s appointment/ultrasound on Monday. The baby is due the week of August 17. (Jacob died on August 23.) God is truly showing us His redeeming love. August no longer has to be a sad month for us. Instead, it will be a reminder of new life.

Our birthmom is homeless. We are looking for a room/apt to put her in for 3 months. (Something CHEAP!) So if anyone has any ideas, the information would be appreciated. This is our one obstacle. But God already knows how this is going to work out. I would appreciate prayers for the following:

1-Healthy birth mom “E” and baby
2-Finances when we need them
3-Any issues that arise would be taken care of quickly and smoothly
4-“E” would see Jesus through us

I cannot tell you how excited we are. This also means we can officially close our home with DHS. This is such a relief. (This post was originally going to tell you how I have been fighting with them for the past week!) God promised to do this for us. He promised to do it in a way I would never expect. We still have 12 weeks to go and I know nothing is a guarantee, but I am going to enjoy the wait and move joyfully through this door that God has opened for us.

Oh yeah...we will be having a garage sale in a few weeks (even though I would rather walk on crushed glass or even give up PEPSI!!!) to raise funds for adoption expenses. If you hate garage sales like I do but have things you would like to get rid of, please contact me (if you live close) and we will come pick it up! I will let you know when and where the garage sale will be soon.

“The Lord replied, ‘Look at the nations and be amazed! Watch and be astounded at what I will do! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it!” (Habakkuk 1:5)

(FYI…I posted about our trip today, too, so don’t miss that one!)

Grand Canyon - 2009

Seven days.....

Three vehicles.....

Six adults.....

Eight kids.....

Thirty pounds of snacks....

Four Rubbermaids for the Phillips.....

Six different hotels.....

2240 miles.....

Only ONE trip to the ER.....(bil had a stomach bug)

TONS of fun!!!!!!

Because nobody likes to sit and watch vacation slide shows, I will just share a few of the highlights of our adventure!

Because we took the "scenic" route for a lack of better words, our first day of travel was...ummm...interesting.

Our first restroom/snack break was at Lowe's. We all squawked a bit at using their facilities, but decided it would stretch our legs and it would be fine. (Not sure what the Lowe's people thought about a group of 16 people all wearing blue shirts piling into their store!)

Bathrooms the rest of the day were scarce which presented quite a problem for those people in our group with tiny bladders. (You know who you are...Noah.) Around lunch time...actually it was PAST lunch time...there were certain individuals within the 3 vehicles who needed to relieve themselves. We were in the backwoods of Texas and evidently there is some law against restrooms open on a Sunday. We pulled into this little town, thinking it would be the last one for at least an hour. Everything is closed. The MALE people in the trucks proceed to the back of the gas station to relieve themselves. Not sure how that works because I didn't follow them. I was busy cussing them from my TRUCK because there were no open bathrooms!!!!

We went another 30 minutes or so and came upon another gas station that doubled as our choice of restaurant for lunch. They had one toilet and a bunch of BBQ! Those BBQ sandwiches, my friends, was our most expensive meal the entire trip!! No lie!

Did I mention they only had one toilet??? And that it was the only open toilet for 100 miles in either direction??? And that you could not flush the toilet paper? It had to go in the trashcan??? EEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!

The rest of the trip did get better and it was then we realized that going to Lowe's for a potty break was a rather ingenious idea!!

This was also the day that my baby learned to pee in a cup. I was so proud. For some reason, Josiah missed one of our potty breaks...maybe he was asleep or something, but it had not been long so I didn't think it would be a big deal. WRONG!!! As he is holding himself in the carseat, wailing from the back "I hafta go POOOOOTTTTTYYYYYY!", I realized I had no other choice. I climbed back to the back of the truck, unbuckled him, unzipped him, and held a styrofoam cup for him to relieve himself. I'm the mom! He had no problem whatsoever peeing in that cup. I was actually surprised because this is a kid who has never peed standing up! I did start to get nervous when the kid kept peeing and the cup was filling up! I had Noah start looking for another cup just in case! SHEESH! We also hit a bump that could have been disasterous, but again, mom saved the day. I put a lid on the cup, stuck it in his cup holder and told him not to touch it until we stopped!

PawPaw George and Grandma with the grandkids before going into Carlsbad Caverns. The kids had all just bought new sunglasses for the trip at one of our MANY stops at Walmart. Seriously???
The amazing thing about this cave that we walked through for about 2 hours was that it was all different. You would look up and the cave was totally different than what was in front of you. The way God designed this cave is awesome.

This is Noah and my neice, Paige. They look harmless, but these two by themselves are the most talkative kids you have met. Then put them together???? Whose idea was that??? I think it came from the other truck!

This is the train that we rode to the Grand Canyon. It was a 2 1/2 hour ride there and the same on the way back. There is some entertainment as well. On the way back, the guy who "entertained" us was hilarious. He is a homeschool dad and teaches music classes at the elementary school 3 days a week. So he was VERY good with the kids. He had us come up and do the hand jive, which fortunately I do not have the video of. SORRY!! He also had my dad come up and do some jive dance...THAT alone was worth the drive!!
On the way back, we were also robbed at gunpoint by train robbers. The kids all had their dollar bills up in the air for the "robbers". I had explained the best I could to Josiah (3 1/2 years old) that this was just play like, it was fun, blah, blah. So the first robber comes in and takes all the kids money...except for Josiah. He leaves and the second robber comes in. Josiah holds his little hand with the money up and with the most solemn expression, looked right at the robber and said, "Please don't shoot me." And he handed his dollar over. It was HILARIOUS!!! He told me later that "playlike is VERY scary". Gotta love 3 year old boys!
And then we get to the Grand Canyon. I think what impressed me the most (this was my first time there) was how ugly everything was on the entire trip. The landscape was dry, brown, and just boring. There wasn't much green, and even the pretty pink flowers at the top of the ugly cactus had these huge pointy things on them that made them totally unapproachable.
Then you look over into the most beautiful expanse of color you have ever seen. And no matter what the bus driver told us, God breathed this beauty into creation. It was not a meteor, nor was it 6 million years ago that something scientists cannot agree on formed this canyon. As Justin, my 11 year old said on the bus, "God said I want it this big, this deep, this wide, and THAT is how you get the Grand Canyon!"

Oh...and for our next road trip...our map will include ALL the Lowe's as rest areas!!!!

Friday, May 29, 2009


An update to this sad, neglected blog...I promise!! Stop emailing!! LOL!!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Greater things are still to be done here....

"You're God of this city, you're the King of these people, you're the Lord of this nation, you are...You're the Light in this darkness, you're the Hope to the hopeless, you're the Peace to the restless, you are...For there is none like our God, there is none like You, God! Greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this city! Greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done here."

I haven't been able to get the lyrics of this song out of my head for the past few weeks. I try, but I just can't. Yesterday hit us with what I felt at the time was bad news. This sweet, tiny, foster baby is going to be moved to live with her brothers...forever. She will be adopted by the foster mom who has had her brothers since they came into care. How can that be bad news? I have met the other foster mom...she is very capable and loves the brothers. How can this be bad news? Because I am selfish and human.

I want this to be our Emma Claire and do you want to know the REAL reason why?? Because I am tired of the journey. Again, selfish and human. I want some peace and security, closure if you will. I want the proceeds of the promise I was given. No more maybes. No more ifs. No more waiting.

"Greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this city!Greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done here."

How can this be bad news? How can I be sad? God did NOT break His promise of Emma Claire to us. As a matter of fact, He is working out His promise in my life. My dream since I was in high school was to foster and heal drug babies. BABIES! God has performed a miracle and I had forgotten about it. Remember??? God opened a bed in our home to foster and heal drug babies. God did this. God has given me the desire of my heart.

When Jacob died, I was not ready to stop helping babies. I felt hopeless at times because DHS had refused to open a bed in our home. Well, we all know how that turned out! God is STILL giving me the desire of my heart, but I became too selfish and too human to recognize it. So, because I am a planner, here is the plan. We are going to take whatever baby God sends to us, for however long, and love them as our own. We will accept whatever plan God has for these babies, and for us. We will help heal them and in the process they will help heal us. That is the plan. I believe that this baby could be our Emma? Sure...if that is what God wants. If not, she is still the cutest chocolate baby girl I have ever seen! If this is NOT our baby Emma, then what it really means is that God is not finished with our family and foster care. (Remember, Emma means "complete" and Claire means "with clarity"...when we get our Emma Claire, our family will be complete with clarity.)

I would also like to share a little insight on how I function. I am really pretty easy to please. When Patrick and I had been married for 6 months, we started looking for our first home. I don't even remember how many houses we looked at, but each one was the "perfect" starter home for us. I was SO anxious to have our own home, I was ready to move in each house we looked at, right then. We would call my dad to come and look at it and he would explain to us why this wasn't "the" house and encourage us to keep looking. UGH! After waiting not so patiently, we found our house. Because we waited, we ended up with a house we never would have dreamed of! It was much larger than we were looking for and in a much nicer neighborhood. The specifics of the home were such that not just anyone could buy this house. I don't remember the details, but you could not have made more than a certain amount of money, had to be a first time buyer, but you had to have enough money to fix the thing up! We qualified all the way around! If I had my way, we would have bought a tiny little house that had many problems, in a not so nice neighborhood. Because we chose to take the advice of others, (God and our parents) we ended up with a house we never could have dreamed of!

This is how I feel about the babies that come through our home. I could keep each one of them forever and be completely happy. BUT...I know that God has already chosen the one we get to keep. And THAT is the baby I want...not the one I choose (because I would be keeping the one who is breathing sweetly right next to me)! And when she gets here, we will have a baby girl we never could have dreamed of! In the meantime...

"Greater things are still to be done here..."


Nine months ago today, we finalized the adoption of Jacob Levi Phillips. Today, we finalized the adoption of Samara Grace and Josiah Nathan Phillips. It was a terribly hard day and I am so glad it is over. I feel relief that they are finally ours and I don't have to ask permission for ANYTHING again!! But...and sorry if I sound like a broken record...Jacob was missing today. He should have been there. We made it through. And I do feel much better this evening. I appreciate all of you who have been praying for us and for our day, today. Now I will share some pictures of the event...enjoy!

Josiah...he doesn't seem thrilled with the whole thing. I guess nobody asked him if he wanted to be adopted! Good thing 3 year olds don't run the world!

Samara was confused all day long. She just didn't understand why she needed to be "adoctored".

Josiah looked at the judge, then turned around and said, "I'm ready to get out of here." We had only been there about five minutes! The judge made the comment "Wow, whatever goes through his head comes right out of his mouth." Ummm...YEP!

Here, the judge is showing Josiah a pen set or something, to which Josiah said, "Okay, I am going to cover my ears." Not sure what he thought the pens were going to do.

And here we are with the judge after finalization...Phillips Forever!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

"For He remembered His sacred promise..."

The verse of the day on the sidebar of my blog today was this:

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

That was much easier for me this morning than it turned out to be this afternoon. I got the phone call that told us the baby we thought was Emma will be moved to another foster home...the home that has her brothers. They want to have her moved by the end of May, but said we could take her on our trip with us.

Part of me wants them to come and get her right now, and let us get on with our lives, but the other part of me wants to sit back and enjoy as much of her as we can, and let God work. To say we are heartbroken would be an understatement. But as I said when I first told you about this baby, is that we were not given any guarantees that we would get to keep this baby. It just felt so right...all the pieces fell into place easily, God's hand was all over the placement, she was/is a perfect fit.

"His ways are not our ways."

As I was reading my Bible this afternoon, God spoke to me clearly. I read about Hannah and how she prayed for a child out of great anguish and sorrow, and was told to "Cheer up! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of Him." And then, "the Lord remembered her request". He remembered Hannah and gave her a son, her heart's desire. Remember, Hannah promised this boy, Samuel, to God. She gave him to God for His purposes. And the Bible says, "Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife (Hannah) and say, 'May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.'" Hannah had FIVE more children. Not only did God answer Hannah's prayer, but He blessed her beyond measure!

I can't tell you how God's Word spoke to me today. In the Psalms, I read "for He remembered His sacred promise." God promised me Emma. He remembers me. He has not forgotten me.

At the VERY least, this 6 week old baby did NOT spend her first two weeks of life alone in the NICU. She did NOT have to go to a shelter. She has known love, compassion, and the warmth of a family. She was/is a source of hope for us. No matter the outcome, it was a miracle that our home has remained open and that we were priveleged to love on her for however long God chooses.

Please pray for God's will in Emma's life. And ours. Pray for those mom's this weekend who have lost children...or have never had the opportunity to have them. Mother's Day used to be a source of it's just another reminder that someone is missing.

On a brighter note, Samara and Josiah will become "forever Phillips" tomorrow at 11am. Also, I have been told that as soon as Emma moves from our home, they will place us with another foster baby. I am thankful, as always, for the distractions.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


What a weekend!! The Oklahoma Homeschool Convention was a HUGE blessing. What an amazing group of people I am blessed to work with! I left early (thanks, Emma!) so I don't know what our numbers were, but Friday was PACKED! Standing room only workshops, lines out the kazoo at the vendor booths...AMAZING! Give us a couple of weeks and we will start planning for 2010!

As for me, I have 2 weeks to get everyone ready to go to the Grand Canyon. Our entire family will be going and my dad has it all planned out. (I am SO relieved to just get to go along for the ride and not have to plan anything!) Packing 9 people for a 7 day trip is no small feat! We will be doing laundry halfway through, so really, I will only be packing for 3 days (plus the clothes we wear). Since we will be staying in different hotels each day, I decided instead of each person having their own suitcase to lug in and out each day, we will be packing in Rubbermaids. Day #1, Day #2, and Day #3, plus our "overnight" Rubbermaid which will have all jammies and toiletries. Two Rubbermaids in and out of the hotel each day. That sounds MUCH better to me than NINE suitcases. We are all really looking forward to this trip.

Between now and then, we have Olympic Day, Voice Recital, the boys performing "It's Cool In The Furnace" at church, a birthday party...make that TWO birthday parties (I almost forgot Ashlee will be "14" tomorrow!), oh, REHEARSALS for voice and church, but most importantly, Samara and Josiah's adoption day!!! (Friday, May 8) We will also be having them dedicated on Mother's Day.

It is bittersweet for me. On one hand, we are overjoyed that these two days are finally coming (adoption and dedication) but on the other hand, my only other experience is with Jacob. That didn't turn out so well, so I am having some minor issues with this. Please pray. Jacob died the day before his dedication day at church. It is still extremely difficult to sit through baby dedications, and now we are going to go through one. Don't get me wrong...I WANT them to be dedicated...I WANT this to happen, I just don't want to have the "Jacob" memories.

Samara and Josiah really don't have a clue as to what this adoption stuff means. First of all, because of the trauma of their past, there are just some things they are not ready/able to discuss and understand. Josiah is 3 and Samara has the mental/emotional capacity of a 3 year old. One day we will be able to talk about it, but not yet. Also, when I did mention something about going to court, Samara immediately connected that with Jacob's death. I decided to just drop it at that point. Seriously, she doesn't need to think that once the adoption is final, that she will go to heaven, too. It seems like even the exciting things in this first year without Jacob are hard.

I would like to share something with you all so that you can be aware of the power of God's healing. As I have written before, Josiah was diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) last year. While in total agreement with the diagnosis, since then, we believe that he has been healed from this. I couldn't help but rejoice over the difference a year has made.

Last year, I left Josiah and Jacob at our home with our beloved babysitter for the two days during convention. When I got home on Saturday evening, Josiah climbed up in my lap, looked at me with his scary eyes, put his chubby little 2 year old hands around my neck and tried to strangle me. This was real. Fortunately, he was only 2, so he couldn't really hurt me. He was furious with me. This happened twice, along with several rages over the next week.

This year, he stayed with my mom and dad. When I went to pick him up Friday night, he climbed up into my lap, smiling, no scary eyes, and said, "Mommy, I want to go to sleep on you." He then proceeded to cuddle himself right into me. It was heaven! Our God is the ultimate Healer.

I will leave you with that. Have a wonderful week!